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"To the moon, Alice" is one of Jackie Gleason's more famous "Honeymooners" lines, and it could be the slogan next year for the ultimate sweepstakes prize: a ride into space.

The Russian space program, taking a private industry approach to raising funds, is trying to hook up with a marketer that wants to send someone on a nine-day mission in February or March of 1998, five of those days to be spent on the Mir space station.


It's a $20 million to $25 million package put together by a U.S. event marketing company, to include the ride; 90 days flight training for the winner and alternates; and perhaps a range of secondary prizes like meeting with astronauts and visits to Space Camp.

Atlanta-based Space Marketing Corp., along with Jay Coleman's EMCI, has started contacting international marketers.

Space Marketing President Mike Lawson declined to confirm that Microsoft Corp. is among those that expressed interest, but one tech company he declined to identify has offered to be half-sponsor. They hope to have either a single sponsor or at best two, and said they have signed non-disclosure pacts with eight interested companies in the U.S. and Japan.

Space Marketing and Mr. Coleman this year put together the package that had Russian cosmonauts releasing a giant Pepsi-Cola can into space and filming a TV spot, a deal that some experts suggest cost $3 million to $4 million.


As part of that deal, the cosmonauts did a live interview during "The 1996 MTV Video Music Awards." Space Marketing earlier put together a deal to paint the side of a rocket with an ad for an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, though the promotion never actually took place.

Mr. Coleman, whose past event projects include Pepsi-Cola Co.'s mid-1980s Michael Jackson tour, said the possibilities for the new promotion are even bigger than Pepsi's deal this year.

"I see this as a once in a lifetime situation. As we head into the millennium, doing something like this is perfect for a company that wants to make a statement about technology or imagery as futuristic," Mr. Coleman said.


The event companies contend their deal with the Russian space company Energia offers the chance for worldwide publicity during what could be a six-month contest to choose finalists. Publicity would continue as finalists go through training and a winner and backup are chosen. The actual flight will garner more attention.

"It's an interesting idea, but $20 million is a lot of money. There's no way to get it back," said Dan Fox, exec VP of Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago. "And what happens if you take Joe Schmoe and it blows up on the launch pad?"

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